Tag: Young Adult Fiction

My Life With the Walter Boys

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At the time when I read this, which was, actually, a few weeks ago, I kind of was bored with everything I was reading. Who knows? If Ali Novak’s debut Wattpad-turned-published contemporary romance about a girl who lost everything, and then had everything, including a new family after moving into the Walter household hadn’t come into my life, I would’ve went into a reading slump, and my Goodreads challenge would have been even more at stake. It already is, in case you were wondering. I’m like, 60 books behind schedule. Anyways, I must say that My Life With the Walter Boys is absolute literary brilliance. For anyone seeking a new, never-been-done-before kind of story that has every bit of gushing, squealing and ship-creating in it, I would strongly recommend reading this. It changed the way I look at contemporary-romance and how others look at the genre. Many tend to stay away from it because some books become cheesy and predictable, and although this was really, really predictable (I know some of you really dislike that), I loved it. So much that I want to go and read everything that Ali Novak has written. After I grabbed a copy of this at BEA last year, I discovered that Ali is also the author of another book Sourcebooks was amazing to hand out: The Heartbreakers. My younger sister read it and adored it, so I am very excited for it, too.

My Life With the Walter Boys is one of those books that you imagine becoming a TV show slash sitcom. I would love to watch it if that ever became something. It’s so real, normal though significant at the same time. I loved our protagonist, Jackie Howard, who reminded me a little too much of myself, being obsessed with school and a total perfectionist. I loved the romance, even the love triangle that formed. This was an exception to all of the bookish things I once said I hated. For some reason, this seems like the book I would dislike, in the end. Somehow, it was the opposite.

The only thing I have to complain about is the predictability. But that’s what occurs when a teenage girl writes a book about romance and releases it on Wattpad. That’s the only way that predictability occurs. Only with romance. I knew that the ending would occur the way it did, and there was nothing that was a shocker for me. But thankfully, I liked the characters too much to have to dislike this book even more.

Jackie, like the title states, is in a house with the Walters. There’s eleven guys. GUYS. (I would go nuts) She has just lost everything, including her parents and her sister, in a car crash that she was supposed to be in, if she hadn’t caught the flu. She lost her NYC luxurious life, her friends, and has to move to the other side of the country—Colorado, because her uncle cannot take custody of her. Instead, her mom’s old best friend and her family are Jackie’s new home. Of course, she hates all of them at first, blaming them on her horrible life, but as she forms a connection with the older boys, like Alex and Cole, romance sparks. Duh.

Each of the Walter boys (and Parker, of course, who is the only girl in the family, excluding their mother) had their own personality—that was interesting. It’s so interesting to ponder about how an author must conquer twelve different personalities (that’s without Jackie) into a single novel. Twelve different characters who have different hobbies, opinions, appearances… this is crazy. Ali Novak did it wonderfully. We have our popular, player boy who Jackie finds herself attracted to, Cole, who has a twin, and then there’s Alex, who is the computer-freak and Jackie also finds him attractive. It kind of was instalove between her and Cole, but that’s okay. It didn’t bother me. Yet again, here I am talking about how INSTALOVE DOESN’T BOTHER ME. Am I hearing myself correctly? I think I am, though.

It was extremely easy to relate to Jackie. Although I thankfully had not gone through what she had, I loved her as a character. She goes through a swift character transition, from good to bad, doing many things that in the past, she would never believe that she would do. Some may think that this is a a cheesy kind of thing to add into contemporary romance, but honestly, it happens to many people. Sometimes, being too good is boring. *twiddles eyebrows* I promise, I don’t have anything bad in store.

My Life With the Walter Boys is just such a fun, summer read. Purchase it, bring it to the beach, pool, or even couch with you and just devour it. Ali Novak writes with a very fast pace that keeps us readers addicted, and unable to put it down and take a breath until it’s all over. When it was over, I swear, I felt such an attraction to the Walter family that I felt like I, myself, had lost everything.

The Rose and the Dagger

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My fellow Caliphs and Caliphas, the story of Shahrzad and Khalid is actually over. Thinking about the fact that I will never be able to see a new cover being released for this series, or that I will never be able to hold the two books in the duology as if they were new and as if I never heard of them before just cracks my heart in half. All in all, The Rose and the Dagger is beautiful, electrifying and gives me the feels once more. I’ve been waiting a year (or so) to read this sequel, and I actually just discovered that it’s a duology (well, before I read this) so I had so much rage in me. Looking back at the ending and how Ahdieh, as always, unfolded everything and answered all of us readers’ questions, I am truly satisfied. This couldn’t have ended in a better way.

I loved this; don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t as good as the first book. I initially predicted that I would rate this five stars, because the first book changed me in more ways than I would ever expect (especially with how I look at the high fantasy genre), but this book was weaker in a few ways. Listen, I have always loved the characters, romance and ideas/themes that Ahdieh presented. My love for those book characteristics never changed or diminished. Shazi and Khalid are still my favourite couple in the entire universe, their characters/personalities as a whole are so fearless and strong, more strong than most books’ characters have, and I have always loved the setting of the desert and Khorasan and basically… everything. 

Before I get to the positives, I feel that it is best to speak about the issues. This book didn’t feel as put-together or as wholly as the previous novel, or how I would like a book to feel. Yes, our questions were answered and it turned out pretty great, but the book felt so (it’s hard to describe honestly) stiff. There were parts where I was bored (especially through the middle) and I constantly felt this tension that a random war would pop up in the midst of the story (which it kind of did/didn’t) and I was waiting for that. Also, I would have appreciated more Khalid/Shazi moments, but it is completely understandable how they had to part ways for a huge portion of the story because of the events/curse that got in their way. Also, what happened with that curse?

“You continue to wound me, you awful girl. Because I know. Had I spent a single night with you, I would never have wished for us to be parted from that day forward” (66).

As you may have known, Khalid’s curse is a large theme of book one because this affects his relationship between him and Shazi, and how the world around him looks at him, his reputation. I can’t really pinpoint what the goal of this book was. Question-answering, absolutely, romantic development, sure, but the curse was rarely mentioned and there was hardly any fantasy magical things occurring. Listen, I am not your diehard fan of spells and whatnot, but I love the way Renée approaches it, and that barely occurred. Yeah, we see Shazi experimenting with her magic carpet, but that was only a short instant. Those were the issues I spotted.

Now, to the positives, because there were a ton. I loved how Ahdieh reminded readers of who was who, what meant what, and where the characters were in terms of time and setting. I didn’t feel like re-reading the first novel because (A) my TBR pile is huge and (B) I had no time to prepare myself for the sequel so I just bought it. Thank you, Renée! I seriously needed that recap. This novel takes place right from where the first left us off. Each character is basically in a different place, and we feel this tension when Shazi and Khalid are trying to find each other.

As always, Ahdieh has handled the perspectives well. I’ve enjoyed her writing of this series because it’s written in third-person perspectives. Therefore, we could easily discover who Ahdieh is writing about because their names are mentioned. I loved every character, their rivals and their relationships.

Shahrzad is as fearless, strong and kick-ass as always. Since the time I read The Wrath and the Dawn, Shazi has resided as my favourite heroine in all of YA and in all of every single book I have ever read. I love her independence, how she doesn’t need someone by her side to get the job done. There are many scenes where she goes to find something/someone, and she goes on her own, secretly.

“When I was in the desert, I woke each day and carried on with my life, but it wasn’t living; it was merely existing. I want to live. You are where I live” (173).

BUT GUYS WE HAVE A NEW STAR CHARACTER. Irsa, Shazi’s younger sister! I adore sister relationships because they can only remind me of my relationship with my own sister. Ahdieh introduces Shazi’s character in the first chapter, and she remains an important part of this sequel because she is always by her sister and would do anything to save her, even though she is younger. We even see her fall in love, confess her deepest worries to people that we would never expect her to, and most importantly, we see a huge character development. She’s amazing.

KHALID AND TARIQ, MY FRIENDS. These are the hottest YA guys in all of the universe. Some people may disagree with me, but I actually liked their feud, because it made sense. They had reasons to hate each other. It’s a love triangle, people, what else do you expect?

The Rose and the Dagger was just absolute joy and greatness. I adore Renée Ahdieh’s writing so much that she is an instant-buy for me and I would sell all of my books to get a new book by her (okay, that is nuts and I don’t think I’d do that haha). This was just a perfect ending to the story and there were so many shocking moments, plot twists and the amount of suspense at the end of every chapter was astonishing. YOU’LL EXPERIENCE EVERY FEELING; I ALMOST FELL APART AT THE END because of something shocking and sad. Goodbye, Shazi and Khalid. I love you! (I’ll reread this series eventually because it’s too good)

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Hello booklovers!

Every year YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) asks teens to vote for their favorite 10 titles of the year. Well the list is in for 2016. Have you read these titles?

Alive by Chandler Baker. coming soon…

  1. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.
  2. The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough.
  3. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  4. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon.
  5. Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone.
  6. The Novice: Summoner: Book One by Taran Matharu.
  7. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.
  8. When by Victoria Laurie.
  9. Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls. By Lynn Weingarten.

Want your voice heard? Why not vote on next years’ list? Here is a link to next years nomination form.

Nantucket Blue

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Nantucket Blue is one of those books that I added on to my TBR list ages ago when I underwent some kind of YA contemporary-romance chick-lit phase. It happens. I never stopped wanting to read it, either. I finally found a copy of it available when I went to the new library by my house. Seeing a copy in good condition also intrigued me, you know? I borrowed it, sat down in one of their uber-cool noise-cancelling chairs, and read half of it there. The other half? At home. It’s currently summer vacation, and although I won’t be spending any time on the beach until August, Leila Howland converted me from reality into Nantucket. You cannot imagine how much I want to visit Rhode Island, tour Brown University and take a ferry to this gorgeous island that I now know so much about. For some, this may be a cheesy chick-lit where we could all predict the ending. Yeah, it was extremely cheesy, but that’s the fun of it. I really loved Nantucket Blue, and I am excited to read the sequel!

This story revolves around soon-to-be-seniors in high school, Cricket and Jules. They have been best friends since the eighth grade, and since Cricket doesn’t have a good relationship with her divorced parents, Jules’ home has become Cricket’s, in a way. After a huge tragedy strikes, the two friends’ lives change forever. This is right at the start of summer vacation, and Jules’ family is still going to their summer home on a small island called Nantucket. Cricket follows Jules to show that their friendship still exists and gets caught in a summer fling in the midst of it all… yada yada yada.

You can most likely predict it if I tell you all about each of the characters and how Cricket gets involved with them. That’s not why I read the book, to catch the predictability and make fun of the story. I read this book because I was looking for a book that will capture the great moments of summer and make me have this inexplicable feeling. This book is your perfect beach read, a book that you will fly by in a sitting and squeal over.

Leila Howland is just such a good writer. This story was fast-paced, and although it takes place over a matter of two months, it never got boring. Boringness is a HUGE book pet peeve of mine, and if I get bored reading a book, I feel like it’s a waste of time for me to read. Nantucket Blue was just so addicting and like bliss. It had this kind of 90210-like drama, but it was narrowed down a touch and made extra fun.

Our protagonist, Cricket, was kind of the issue at times, but I liked her anyway. Overly attached characters are no fun. There were moments where I just wanted to slap the book and scream at it because Cricket never made the decisions that she should have made! Like seriously, making out with two guys in a day? Being nice and overly attached to your ex-best friend? NOOOO. Cricket Thompson is your stereotypical example of a bi*chy teenage girl. I honestly am so against stereotypes (they’re the worst things possible), but Cricket Thompson fulfilled the ones that have been made for years because of shows/books like Gossip Girl. She had no respect for her parents, didn’t care about anything she did, and was so boy-crazy that it blew my mind.

At least the romance was cute when it came around. Screw Jay though. I can’t believe that Cricket was obsessed with this douche-bag. ZACK, GUYS. I don’t understand what was the big deal with the whole dating-best-friend-brother thing. I guess people have different opinions on all of this. The age difference kind of frustrated me, though. (Zack is a sophomore. Cricket is a senior).

My favourite thing was Nantucket itself. I’ve read books about The Hamptons, about Martha’s Vineyard or Cape Cod, but never about Nantucket. I wouldn’t have known about Nantucket if it wasn’t for Leila Howland’s duology. I WANT TO GO THERE. I want to eat fried clams, as well.

Nantucket Blue is one of the most summeriest books you could possibly read. Next time I go to the library, I’ll have to grab a copy of the sequel and be introduced to another summer of Cricket’s in Nantucket. Any lover of Melissa de la Cruz’s contemporary novels should definitely go for this pretty.

The Girl From Everywhere

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This four point five star rating I am handing Heidi Heilig’s debut time-traveling adventure romance (add in whatever genre you can think of and this book has it) is not exactly what it seems like. Honestly? Forget about that four point five and picture this book as a perfect ten. The Girl From Everywhere was mystical, dashing, magical, stunning and just oh-so-good, unlike my initial expectations. PEOPLE. I find that it’s better to expect the worst than the best, even in reality. I initially expected a boring, un-understandable read for me with this one, but I flew through it in a sitting, and after it was over, I picked up my library copy and held it against my heart. (I get a little cheesy when I like a book so much). Oh, and why should you treat this as a perfect rating? Because the book was practically perfect. I will touch on a minor thing that set me off from granting this five stars, but it barely affected me in any manner. By the way, I just noticed the girl in the water on the cover of this book after reading. I LOVE THOSE SURPRISES. That’s mega-cool.

The Girl From Everywhere has such a perfect title for the 443 pages that are stamped inside of this beautiful cover.It explains our heroine, Nix, so well. I’m so giddy with this book that I don’t even know where my review should really begin. This is definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year, and perhaps ever. I cannot fangirl about it more than I already have and will.

For some reason, I expected this to be bad. Why? Because in the past, I have never enjoyed books about time-traveling mixed with historical events and myths. Okay, first of all, myths are rarely incorporated into YA these days, so that’s a first… or second. Heidi Heilig writes about something that’s deep in her heart, and I bet that she is seriously passionate about: Hawaiian culture. HOLY LEIS AND PINEAPPLES. I love Hawaii, I want to go there so bad. I mean, I always wanted to fly to the island of Oahu, be lei-ed (or whatever they call it), yell “Ohana means family” and say Aloha to every person I meet there. But now? This book introduced Hawaiian culture to me and it was so interesting to read about the most gorgeous islands in the world… back in the day, specifically in the nineteenth century.

HOW DOES HEIDI DO EVERYTHING PERFECTLY? There’s so much diversity in The Girl From Everywhere that I cannot stop squealing. We have Kashmir (HOLY I LOVE HIM, I’LL GET TO HIM SOON), who is from Persia when Nix and her father, Slate, find him, and there’s also Bee, who is African. Bee’s a crew member on The Temptation, the ship that Nix and her father time-travel or Navigate with. She’s lesbian too, which shows us how DEDICATED this book is. I loved reading about each and every place that Nix Navigated to, including New York City and how she retold events from the past when they went to Scandia and how they saw dragons in the Baltic Sea.

“It was only the nervous shifting of his eyes that hinted at discomfort, but not with the city, nor with being on land. With his own skin. No matter where we went, he never felt at home. I recognized that feeling. I’d inherited it” (35).

Basically, The Girl From Everywhere is about our heroine, Nix, whose mother died when she gave birth to her. Her father, who is the captain of the ship that they, among others, time-travel, or Navigate with, called The Temptation, has never gotten over the fact that his true love is gone. He and Nix travel through time using maps that they find, going back centuries or millenniums into the past. Now, they are on the search for Nix’s mother back in the past in Honolulu, Hawaii. That scares Nix, because she knows that she could possibly disappear if they do find her.

I was on the edge of my seat for the whole novel. Although it’s about five hundred pages long, I couldn’t stop reading from the moment I began the story. Heidi Heilig writes so casually, yet absolutely lyrically and different, perhaps more poetic than I would’ve expected. I loved everything about this story, how it teaches readers about culture, myth and the beautiful parts of loving life. I wish that I could GRAB ALL OF THE MAPS AND NAVIGATE MYSELF. It’s a different twist on time-travel, and it’s for a good reason.

You see, I always need some kind of description of the gears of time-traveling in a book I read. That’s so important for me. Heilig did not info-dump on us, making up some weird explanations for why what Nix and her father do works. It was brief, yet unimaginable because no author has ever explored a bookish world like Heidi had.

I don’t understand the issues people had with this glorious story. It was racing, perfectly paced, and now? My life depends on the sequel. Honestly, a sequel isn’t needed because the story ended off perfectly and we readers could imagine a continuing ending that works, but THERE IS ONE COMING AND DAMN, I NEED IT. I NEED HARPERCOLLINS TO SEND ME A COPY ASAP. I’LL TAKE A MANUSCRIPT THAT’S ALL WRITTEN OVER, IF THAT’S WHAT IT TAKES. Or, I could ask my favourite couple, Nix and Kashmir, to personally deliver it. *twiddles eyebrows*

Nix is your dream definition of a heroine. I loved her personality, and how she dealt with the situation she was in. She had every right to be confused and feel discomfort with her life, because she was taken away from what was supposed to be her future. It was interesting for us to get a first-hand look at the life she would’ve had if her father hadn’t began Navigating for Nix’s mother in the past, in nineteenth century Hawaii. She wasn’t one of those protagonists who hated everyone around her for unexplainable reasons, you know? I found myself totally relating to her wanderlust, and NOW I WANT TO TRAVEL. People with severe wanderlust, this book is for you to take a trip with.

“Paradise is a promise no god bothers to keep. There’s only now, and tomorrow nothing will be the same, whether we like it or not” (390).

KASHMIR AND BLAKE. Guys, we have a slight love triangle here, but unless you’re really affected by them, you’ll be fine. Blake is a character we are introduced to halfway through the novel, and he is living in the Hawaii that Nix visits with The Temptation. He hides this secret that he is also a mapmaker, and Nix is immediately drawn to his mysteriousness. I would be, too. I loved Blake and his mysterious character, but honestly? My heart is for the gorgeous Kashmir. Kashmir is Nix’s best friend, and they have known each other for a long time. He is also a thief, and helps Nix’s father to all of the deeds that Nix herself would never want to do. AGH. My heart flutters like hell when he’s in a chapter. I need them to be together. She’s kind of torn between the two, and I wonder how the next book will patch things up. AND GUYS. THE ENDING? Nix is well… *SPOILER* stuck with them both. Hah. *SPOILER ENDS*

So what I had a slight issue with was the ending itself. That was just chaotic and I found that it happened so fast that I didn’t know what exactly happened. I still don’t even know. I don’t know how Nix’s father made the decision that he did, and I had to go over the last chapter or so a few times, but it still was foggy. I need a greater explanation, PLEASE. But that’s cool, fine. I LOVE THIS BOOK, OH EM GEE.

The Girl From Everywhere is one of the most stunning debuts I have ever read. WE HAVE A BEAUTIFUL ROMANCE (who cares about the love triangle? It works!), a heroine who is one of a kind, and a plot slash story that I cannot get out of my head. This book seems like a dream, I can’t believe I was so fortunate to read it, because it’s unlike anything that my brain would ever come up with in a million years. Who knows? Maybe I could Navigate into 2017 and grab a copy from the amazing Heidi herself. THAT WOULD BE THE BEST.